Mohammad Khatami, the former president of Iran, is considered to be a reformist by several Iranian and Iranian American friends - and by many others. Let me admit that he doesn't seem sufficiently reformist to become acceptable for me.
And it is not only because he considers Israel to be a "criminal Zionist regime" as well as "a parasite in the heart of the Muslim world" and because most of the reforms were actually reverted during his presidency although it was not necessarily always Khatami's fault.
At any rate, he is already in the U.S. and will speak (in Farsi, with English translation) on September 10th at 4:00 pm at the Kennedy School of Government:
Note that is is less than 20 hours before the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. I am sure that the room will be crowded and many people with anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiments, including Americans, will be very happy.
My opinion happens to be closer to several journalists. The title "Ethics of tolerance in the age of violence" is a bad joke for a talk of an ex-president of a country in the Axis of Evil who presided over the 1999 crackdown of Tehran University - although he was not the main villain during this incident.
As the New York Sun points out, the Kennedy School of Government feels fresh after it has established itself as a leading center of anti-Israeli agitation. Khatami will feel right at home there. New York Sun enumerates some other anti-Jewish statements by Khatami. No doubt, we will hear a lot of "peaceful" theories that the U.S. is the country that is triggering terrorism and fighting to dominate the world.
Meanwhile, some Republican Congressmen are upset that the Bush administration granted Khatami visa. The Powerlineblog offers an explanation of the Department of State. Another New York Sun editorial proposes that the administration should seize Khatami. Also, Jack Kelly criticizes Bush himself, although less than Jimmy Carter whom Khatami will meet, probably to say "thank you", as Kelly suggests. Many Jewish groups are disappointed, too. Critical comments of many analysts and politicians are here. The Iranian dissidents in the U.S. are preparing protests, too. To make it interesting, the Islamic officials in Iran are against the visit, too (see the previous link).
Why is Harvard in the center of this stuff? As Guy Darst who writes for the Boston Herald has figured out, without Lawrence Summers in Massachusetts Hall, Harvard University is without adult supervision. ;-) The Powerlineblog agrees and describes the visit in similar words.
P.S. An anonymous poster was attempting to impose censorship again. Sorry but it can't work and moreover the comment was based on flawed information. There is no significant disagreement between me and our Iranian and Iranian American friends about the Iranian politics.
P. P. S. On Monday, the Czech neo-Nazi group "National Resistance" has sent an anti-Israel, anti-NATO, anti-EU, anti-US letter to the Czech president Klaus complaining about the sons of Moses etc. and asking for a permission to serve in the army of the Islamic Republic of Iran so that they can fight against Israel. Well, of course, the mainstream reaction of the Czechs including me is that it would be a great idea to send all of them to serve in that army. ;-) On the other hand, Klaus' people declared that this letter did not satisfy their criteria and Klaus wouldn't waste his time with it. Less amusingly, they want to attack Czech targets after the first missile in Iran. Synagogues, embassy of Israel, and Israeli tourists are potential targets.